A huge jump in wholesale prices sent stocks falling Tuesday as investors worried that rising oil prices were starting to take a toll on the overall economy. Mediocre earnings reports from retailers also pressured the market.
Wall Street was concerned that the sharp increase in the producer price index, which rose 1.7 percent in October after a 0.1 percent hike in September, would either eat into fourth-quarter profits or be passed on to consumers, with the latter possibility spurring inflation.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 62.59, or 0.6 percent, to 10,487.65. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index dropped 8.38, or 0.7 percent, to 1175.43, and the Nasdaq composite index declined 15.47, or 0.7 percent, to 2078.62.
While oil prices have retreated in recent weeks, the lingering effect of October's $55-per-barrel highs may be felt through the rest of the year by businesses and consumers. However, falling prices in recent weeks give hope to some stability in energy costs through the winter.
Wal-Mart fell 81 cents, to $56.89, after meeting Wall Street's profit expectations and posting a 12.7 percent increase in third-quarter profit. However, third-quarter sales figures were below analysts' estimates, and investors had hoped for a stronger fourth-quarter outlook.
Home improvement retailer Home Depot beat Wall Street expectations by 3 cents per share on a 15 percent jump in third-quarter profit. The company also increased its forecast for full-year earnings. Home Depot nonetheless dropped 79 cents, to $43.
Office supply chain Staples fell 32 cents, to $30.87, after the company beat analysts' forecasts by a penny per share for the third quarter. Profit rose 26 percent from a year ago, but analysts were disappointed with a mediocre fourth-quarter earnings outlook.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 43.76, to 6959.30; the American Stock Exchange index fell 2.06, to 1349.20; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 5.97, to 617.89.
* Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 13 to 8 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.36 billion shares, from 1.45 billion on Monday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, decliners outnumbered advancers by 5 to 3 and volume totaled 1.89 billion, up from 1.87 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $1.56 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.21 percent, from 4.19 percent on Monday.
* The dollar rose against the Japanese yen and fell against the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 105.38 yen, up from 105.36 late Monday, and a euro bought $1.2960, up from $1.2940.
* Light, sweet crude oil for December delivery settled at $46.11, down 76 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery rose to $440.20 a troy ounce, from $437.00 on Monday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.